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uzbekistan

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  UZBEKISTAN

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
447,400

Population
22,098,000

Principal
ethnic groups
Uzbeks 71.4%
Russians 8.3%
Tajiks 4.7%
Kazaks 4.1%

Capital
Tashkent

Currency
Uzbek Sum

President
Islam Karimov

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Background:
Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up in 1925. During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include insurgency by Islamic militants based in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, a non-convertible currency, and the curtailment of human rights and democratisation.

Update No: 254

The Uzbek republic, or rather its repressive regime, has taken the plunge. It has let the Americans into the country in a big way. Actually, they were already in extensive cooperation with Uzbek security forces in anti-terrorist operations before 9:11. The events since then have escalated the scale of the US - Uzbek cooperation enormously. The US used Uzbek air bases to monitor northern Afghanistan during its war with al-Qaeda and the Taleban. Special forces operated from the common border of 80 miles.
Uzbekistan is now part of the US security zone, with bases across Central Asia. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has been the threat, a 3,000-strong body of Islamic fundamentalists, engaged in drug-running, kidnapping and other outrages. Previously, they operated out of northern Afghanistan. But they must now be seeking other sanctuaries. In the vast, lonely reaches of the Pamirs and the Hindu Kush this is not an impossibility. It may be difficult for them to mount raids into former Soviet Central Asia again. Time will tell.
Uzbekistan was always a tough proposition for them and they infiltrated Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in force more easily, although they were repulsed. Their greatest coup in Uzbekistan was to nearly kill Karimov by blowing up his car. But he survived and vowed to strangle any of them with his own bare hands if they were caught.
Actually the IMU are a godsend (one should perhaps say allah send) to his regime. They justify his repressive measures, not only to the mainly secular, or at least not fundamentalist, population, but also now to the Americans. Uzbekistan is coming in from the cold where the more human rights-conscious Clinton Administration had put it.
The IMF is considering a resumption of loans, while other international agencies now have it on their lists. But the main thing is simply that Uzbekistan is now known about more in the West. 
On January 12th US congressman, Jim Colby, headed a delegation of US congressmen and businessmen that visited to develop political, economic and social relations. An immediate allocation of US$100m is to be made to various programmes in the country. More will depend on reforms, which have long been stalled.
The delegations were also considering the reconstruction of Afghanistan and visited the border town of Termez to see the "Friendship Bridge."
Such a visit would have been inconceivable before 9:11. Clearly Karinov has pulled off a diplomatic triumph by aligning his country so emphatically with the US in the anti-terorist coalition, ignoring pleas by Putin made on September 12th-14th to remain more aloof.
But this could have profound consequences, unpredicted by him at the time. One distinct possibility is that Uzbekistan, could become what it deserves to be, a magnet for tourists.
Astride the old Silk route and former site of the empire of Tamurlaine the Great and his "pampered jades of Asia," as Christopher Marlowe put it in his play on him, Uzbekistan could become a great tourist centre. With Samarkard, Bokhara, Khiva and other exotic cities it has some of the finest Islamic architecture in the Moslem world. It represents a rather more acceptable face of the great religion than al-Qaeda and bin Laden, or their IMU allies.
It will be a rich irony indeed, if the final outcome of IMU's activities will be to have given a huge impetus to the Westernisation of Uzbekistan, as not just the US and its armed forces, but its civilians and those from Europe too and Japan begin to discover the possibilities of this Central Asian outpost of Islamic civilisation. That would make for better relations between Islam and the West, not the souring of relations on which the fanatics have been banking their hopes.
Hotel construction in Tashkent, the capital, and the cities along the Silk Road is rapidly expanding, with Turkish, German and French companies involved. Shopping malls will doubtless follow, but not such as would displace the bazaars, the age-old market places of Central Asia. A brighter future beckons for Uzbekistan.

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FOOD & DRINK

Khorezm sugar plant privatisation on the cards


The Uzbekistan-based Khorezm Sugar plant is to be transformed into the Joint Stock Company (JSC) "Khorezm Shakari" (Sugar of Khorezm), with an authorised capital of 14.2bn som. Plans are to sell 39 per cent of the shares, amounting to 5.538bn som, to foreign investors.
Authorised capital of the JSC will be distributed as following: 0.57 per cent of the shares, totalling 80.63m som to the workers collective; 9.43 per cent of the shares, totalling 1.339bn som intended for free sale; and 51 per cent, totalling 7.242bn som, to the state, uzreport.com reported.
The Khorezm Sugar plant, Uzbekistan's only plant producing sugar, was launched in 1998. The plant's total cost amounts to US$83.25m. The project was financed by budget funds and a US$25m credit by the Turkish Eximbank. Although, the plant was originally designed to process sugar beet, the plant's production facilities (3,000 tonnes of sugar beet) were not fully utilised due to the low level of beet yields for several years. Consequently, in November 2001 the sugar plant was reconstructed (at a cost of US$2m) by "Shakar Investment Ltd., the Uzbek-American joint venture.
The state committee on management of the state property and support of the entrepreneurs sees the Uzbek-American JV as main candidates for the purchase of 39 per cent of the JSC's shares.


Khorezm sugar plant privatisation on the cards

The Uzbekistan-based Khorezm Sugar plant is to be transformed into the Joint Stock Company (JSC) "Khorezm Shakari" (Sugar of Khorezm), with an authorised capital of 14.2bn som. Plans are to sell 39 per cent of the shares, amounting to 5.538bn som, to foreign investors.
Authorised capital of the JSC will be distributed as following: 0.57 per cent of the shares, totalling 80.63m som to the workers collective; 9.43 per cent of the shares, totalling 1.339bn som intended for free sale; and, 51 per cent, totalling 7.242bn som, to the state, uzreport.com reported.
The Khorezm Sugar plant, Uzbekistan's only plant producing sugar, was launched in 1998. The plant's total cost amounts to US$83.25m. The project was financed by budget funds and a US$25m credit by the Turkish Eximbank. Although, the plant was originally designed to process sugar beet, the plant's production facilities (3,000 tonnes of sugar beet) were not fully utilised due to the low level of beet yields for several years. Consequently, in November 2001 the sugar plant was reconstructed (at a cost of US$2m) by "Shakar Investment Ltd., the Uzbek-American joint venture.
The state committee on management of the state property and support of the entrepreneurs sees the Uzbek-American JV as main candidates for the purchase of 39 per cent of the JSC's shares.

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FOREIGN LOANS

Japan grants US$400,00 for Uzbek drought areas

The Uzbek Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Elyor Ganiev and Keko Nakayama, Japanese ambassador in Uzbekistan, exchanged verbal notes regarding the US$400,000 grant by the government of Japan for help with the devastation brought about by drought and low level rainfalls in various areas of the country.
The meeting was followed by the ceremony of signing of exchange notes on the project of granting Japanese TV programmes to the Uzbek Television and Radio Broadcasting Company within the framework of aid from the Japanese government in the field of culture. The cost of the project has been reported to amount of 38.3m Japanese yen (US$320,000), Uzreport.com. said.

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INDUSTRY

Uzbek-French JV begins supplying market

The Kokand-based Uzbek-French joint venture Kofra has begun supplying it products to the Uzbek market. Kofra specialises in the production of comfortable, high quality men's, ladies and children's footwear, uzreport.com noted. The JV supplied its first batch of 10,000 pairs of shoes and plans to produce one million pairs over the course of the year. Over the long term, the company intends to resolve raw materials supply issues through localisation.


Uzolmonkum to invest 35.8m Euros in development

Nearly 39m Euros is to be invested by the new Uzbek-German joint venture Uzolmonkum for the development of the production of construction materials. The new JV is co-founded by the Main Investment Department of Tashkent Municipality (MIDM), State Stock Company Tashkent Aviation Plant, Closed Joint Stock Company Gazalkentoina (Gazalkent Glass) and German Company Wemex Handel Gmbh. The JV will produce enriched quartz sand (155,000 tonnes annually), silicate and foamed concrete blocks (30m units annually), and rock wool from the basalt (8,000 tonnes annually). Some years ago the production of rock wool from basalt, used in production of isolation material, was temporarily suspended, uzreport.com reported. 
The production capacities of the new JV will cover not only the domestic market but also exports to CIS and abroad. The JV is currently involved in engineering the new and reconstructing the old production sites, provided as a contribution to the Charter Capital by the MIDM. In addition to MIDM as founder providing the legislative basis for the JV, the German partners will buy and install modern production equipment.

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